Today’s book for writing tips is The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. If you haven’t read this book, you need to. This book is one of the ones that have a unique part in my heart because it is so well written. And not just well written, the story. Oh my god, it’s such a great story.
TFIOS follows the love story of Hazel Grace Lancaster, who has cancer, and Augustus Waters, who lost his leg to cancer. They meet in an adorably awkward cancer support group meeting, and I can’t tell you how beautiful this story is. It makes you laugh, it makes you cry, and it makes you appreciate life all that much more.
A lot more happens in the book, but you have to read it to find out. I’m telling you. It’s worth it.
There are so many writing tips that I can pull from this book for you, but I’ll try to keep it brief. Firstly, John Green has this amazing way of mixing tragedy and comedy, but not in a morbid way. His characters are teenagers, and they are dealing with really serious problems, like death and dying. Even with all of that, he doesn’t bring the reader down. He makes them laugh. Nobody wants to read something that makes them as depressed as Hazel, but this is quirky and funny and it tells a sad story in an uplifting way.
Of course, when it comes to the sad parts, Green knows how to get us readers to cry. And the sad parts aren’t as uplifting. Don’t get me wrong, this story sends a huge message.
Which brings me to the second tip.
There is this whole idea of some infinities being bigger than other infinities, which means something really great and beautiful if you read the book. It’s a lesson that Hazel learns and passes on to the reader.
Maybe look at a lesson that you’ve learned or seen learned in your life. Think of something that means a lot to someone you know or even you, but other people might not realize it yet. I think we all have at least one thing in our heads that make us question others because they don’t seem to see it. Even if we , ourselves, don’t see it yet, everyone has at least one message that they’ve learned and at least one person out there hasn’t gotten it yet.
Take that message that you see, or the message that you’ve been thinking about for a while, and think of a story that it applies to. Or maybe take an idea you’ve already got and try to make the plot line based on how to send that message.
Finally, it sticks out to me that in the book, the two main characters use really high vocabulary. It’s like nerdy flirting. It’s adorable. But Green did it right, not making the characters sound all pretentious and not relatable. It just makes them sound smart, and helps them sort of… connect. He uses the way his characters talk to show who they are. And it makes the readers laugh, too. His use of big words make the story more uplifting and comical.
You see, when you see big words in books, all it usually shows is that the author went to college. When these SAT words are used in a way that adds to the dynamic of the story, it helps the writing style. It is a way to show how these characters are more evolved, so to speak, because of what they’ve been through.
So my challenge for you is to try out the following in your writing: Try to lighten up the darker parts of your writing. It’s hard to transition from a really emotional scene to a less emotional one. Try making the reader laugh. A laughing reader makes for a happy reader. Even if what you are writing about is serious, or depressing, or a real-world problem, maybe add in some kind of lighthearted comments here or there. Especially if there is romance. That’s a great way to get your readers to like your love interest– make him/her lighten up the mood a little.
Try out the use of a message in your writing. It can help you come up with a story, or maybe you can find one in the editing process and make it more important to the story with a few changes. Stories with messages tend to stick in the reader’s mind longer and they might even come back to reread it.
Finally, think about how your characters talk. Does it change from character to character? Does it help to show different characters are compatible and others aren’t? Does it show their past or the things they are thinking? The reader might not get those things at first, but it is like it is in real life. We don’t understand things sometimes, but we notice them.
And don’t forget: the key to making any writing more real is to add in the things about real life that we don’t notice because we experience them so much. Like the differences in the way people talk. We all might have the same language, but we might use different words to describe things or put those words together differently.
I actually had a monologue assignment in drama class last year, and the monologue came from this book. I had to stand in front of my class and say the most emotional part of the story out loud, which was a eulogy at a funeral, and act out the speech. I don’t think I was very convincing… Shailene Woodley did it way better in the TFIOS movie (which you should watch AFTER reading the book).
I think I’ll stick to writing.
It was a fun assignment, though. I got an A (for effort). And I have two weeks off of school now. Lots of editing will be getting done. Happy winter break, everyone!
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Thank you for reading, and don’t stop writing!